Under the 6th Street Bridge

Last Sunday, I made the difficult decision to pass on CicLAvia, one of my favorite LA institutions, to bask in a piece of local history while it’s still around: the 6th Street Bridge.

The historic 6th Street Bridge, which goes over the LA River, was opened in 1933.  It’s iconic concrete pillars and steel arches can be seen in nearly every car commercial (so it seems, anyway) and more movies that I can count.  It’s a beautiful piece of LA architecture, but is slated to be demolished this summer.  The 6th Street Bridge has an unusual condition called alkali silica reaction, or “concrete cancer,” as it’s known to us common folks.  It’s causing the bridge to split and crack, giving it a high likelihood of collapsing in a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. A modern cable-suspended bridge will be going up in its place.

I biked to the bridge to meet some friends to play under, on, and near the bridge while we still have the chance.  I’ve never been this close to the 6th Street Bridge before, and I’m really glad I had that chance.  We picked up some snacks and beers and checked out the urban landscape.  One of my friends knows of a secret entrance to get underneath the bridge to the river, so we got to see first hand the iconic spot where scenes from Terminator 2 and Grease were filmed.

Other locals seemed to know of that entrance too, as we met several people down by the river.  One couple had the same idea in mind as we did, and had biked to the river to enjoy their Sunday.  We met a man who’s been living by the LA River for the past ten years, and has an incredible singing voice.  He told us in all his years living there, ours was the first happy group he encountered (we are awesome!).  We met some kids filming their senior project, and encountered what appeared to be a car club.  Some people came and went in their vehicles, seeming to want to recreate the race scene from Grease (to the guy who messed up his front end in the deep water, I hope the damage is minimal!).

We took our adventure onto the bridge itself once the five-0 rolled through.  I always err on the side of preservation, but getting a close look made me realize why the bridge is getting demolished.  There were cracks everywhere in the concrete, some so deep you could see the river below.  Yikes!

There is no doubt that the new 6th Street Bridge will change the landscape of LA.  Film and TV will have altered scenery now too.  However, I think it will be sort of cool to have a modern suspension bridge flanked by its 11 historic bridge counterparts.  It’s sort of like the infrastructure version of a dozen roses, and all of them are red but one.

Check out my pictures of my day at the 6th Street Bridge below.  Better yet, be a rebel and sneak under the bridge with some friends to do some exploring yourself!

View of the downtown skyline from the bridge.

View of the downtown skyline from the bridge.


My friend, Christie, poses underneath one of the iconic steel arches.

My friend poses underneath one of the iconic steel arches.


View of the LA River and surrounding industrial area from the bridge.

View of the LA River and surrounding industrial area from the bridge.


Through the tunnel to get to the river.

Through the tunnel to get to the river.


It was a breezy day!

It was a breezy day!


The Amtrak Surfliner train passes right next to the river, and under the 6th Street Bridge.

The Amtrak Surfliner train passes right next to the river, and under the 6th Street Bridge.


Looking north in the LA River under the bridge.

Looking north in the LA River under the bridge.


The LA River bed under the 6th Street Bridge.

The LA River bed under the 6th Street Bridge.

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